Hard Times in the City: Testifying


Bernice, Rent Party Hostess

Photo: caption follows

Surrogate image: New York, New York. Summer 1938. 61st Street between 1st and 3rd Avenues. A sign offering apartments for rent. Walker Evans. Photograph, 1938. (LC-USF33-6718-M3).
Name:
Bernice
Ethnicity:
West Indian
Address:
Informant gave the interview on condition that her present address and last name be omitted from story
Occupation:
Rent Party Hostess
Location:
141 Street, near Lenox Avenue, New York City
Date:
October 2, 1938
Interviewer:
Frank Byrd

Interview Excerpt: "Why did you start giving rent-parties?"

Listen to Bernice's response

"When I first came to New York from Bermuda I thought rent-parties were disgraceful. I couldn't understand how any self-respecting person could bear them, but when my husband, who was a pullman porter, ran off and left me with a sixty-dollar-a-month apartment on my hands and no job, I soon learned, like everyone else, to rent my rooms out an' throw these Saturday get togethers.

"I had two roomers, a colored boy and white girl name Leroy and Hazel, who first gave me the idea. They offered to run the parties for me if we'd split fifty-fifty. I had nothing to lose, so that's how we started."

Transcript #21011104


Choose a different excerpt from this topic:

Man at Eddie's Bar | Man at Colonial Park | Bernice, Rent Party Hostess | Clyde "Kingfish" Smith, Street Worker


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All in a Day's Work: Industrial Lore | Rank and File | Hard Times in the City: Testifying | Making Do: Women and Work


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